Posted: 11:26 am Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

NCAA alters eligibility requirements for high school student-athletes 

By Jeff Greer

The NCAA has made changes to its initial-eligibility requirements for student-athletes hoping to qualify for Division I college sports.

The rules, which go into effect with the high school Class of 2016, include a higher minimum core-course grade-point average, a sliding scale for the GPA/test score index and 10 required core courses that must be completed before a high school student-athlete’s senior year. The new guidelines were announced in a PDF by the NCAA Eligibility Center.

In addition to setting out new policies for initial-eligibility, the NCAA also defined the three possible academic outcomes for student-athletes hoping to play Division I sports: full qualifier, academic redshirt and nonqualifier. A full qualifier is allowed to compete, receive athletics aid (scholarship) and practice the first year on campus. An academic redshirt may receive athletics aid and practice with the team in the first regular academic term, but cannot complete. And the nonqualifier cannot receive athletics aid, practice or compete for the first year.

Here’s the full breakdown of the new initial-eligibility requirements:

Minimum core courses
The new minimum core courses GPA is 2.3. Student-athletes must complete 16 core courses in English, math, natural or physical science, social science and then two other additional classes. They must also graduate from high school.

The 16 core courses: 4 years English; 3 years math at Algebra 1 level or higher; 2 years natural or physical science (one lab if offered by the high school); 1 year additional English, math or natural/physical science; 2 years social science; 4 years additional from areas listed or foreign language, philosophy or comparative religion.

Test score/GPA sliding scale
Student-athletes can use the NCAA’s sliding scale on the NCAA Eligibility Center’s website (found here). Basically the new sliding scale requires a minimum ACT or SAT score that matches the 16 core-course GPA. So, a 2.5 core-course GPA requires a 1000 SAT or 85 sum ACT.

Core-course progression
A student-athlete must complete 10 core courses before the seventh semester of high school, also known as the first semester of senior year. Seven must be in the area of English, math or science. Those courses become “locked in” for the purpose of the GPA calculation.

But here’s a huge caveat in the new rules: A repeat of one of the “locked in” courses will not be used if taken after the seventh semester (or senior year) begins. That’s a major change that will impact student-athletes everywhere — student-athletes regularly rush through online courses and other make-up classes to revitalize their core GPAs and qualify for college. They’ll have to do that before senior year starting with this year’s freshman class.

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